Thursday, May 19, 2011

From Scratch

Our family does use "the blue box," but only because we believe in the moral value of re-purposing garbage. Because I feel there's something good for us in going through the process of washing and sorting our garbage. I don't believe it's a solution to the real problem.

To me, the only real solution is to stop consuming. Hopefully, if enough people stop buying plastic packaging, the industries will stop manufacturing it and creating this throwaway society. And this toxic buildup of plastic that's going to be real ugly for our future children.

As you can see, I've been giving it some thought. Last month our city celebrated Earth Day, which created a lot of  hype—and positive action—here. A wonderful sign. I started reading about "one small change" —another popular and practical, if small, movement. And there are hopeful signs everywhere of a growing, grassroots community committed to sustainable agricultural and environmentally-friendly industry. This is tremendously exciting.

My big beef is the grocery store. (Yeah, yeah, har, har.  Actually, I get my big beef from a farmer south of town). —The grocery store must be one of the worst offenders, with its continuous turnover of plastic packaging, and the ratio of packaging to product is enormous—just think how much plastic is required to cover a handful of crackers. Then the box that covers the plastic that covers the handful of crackers!

In view of that, I've been trying to implement a few small changes of my own, with surprising results.


It's a humble beginning, but mayo is one item I'll never have to buy again!

The males in my house adore mayonnaise. If you knew the turnover rate of plastic mayonnaise containers around here, you'd be worried about the environment too!

 It was making me sick every time I bought it—first, the ingredients. I would walk up to a jar of mayonnaise on the grocery shelf, determined not to read the label, but something would just make me. soybean oil, dehydrated egg, sugar, blech! I would quickly put it back. Then Will, with the desperation of an addict, would buy a jar later in the week. With worse ingredients. Secondly, all those ingredients are sitting in warm plastic, absorbing it. Nice.

So to soothe my ruffled conscience I began making my own; and to my surprise, everyone prefers it! And no wonder, with all its fresh, real-food ingredients. Here's the recipe, for you to try:

blend 1 minute in blender on highest speed: 
2 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1 Tblspn Dijon mustard
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

without turning off the blender, slowly drizzle:
2 cups of grapeseed or light olive oil

As you can see, it's very wholesome, though rich, so a little goes a long way. There are no sugars to lure you into spreading it too thick. The flavour is beautiful; I've started tossing in a garlic clove, just to get that garlicky goodness into my picky little eaters.

See those peaks? See how stiff and creamy? It's real mayo, man!

And that was the start of my pledge *not to buy any condiments from now on. (*except soysauce, oils, sriracha, lemon juice, and that gourmet something-or-other, if they come in a glass bottle. I don't mind tossing glass into the landfill to break down into sand. But I'm done with plastic.)

And this is only the start. I'm looking for ways to start making everything from scratch—moving beyond soup and bread to those little luxuries we thought we couldn't do without.

I'd love to hear what you all are doing! Just don't tell me that you gave up shampoo. (You did! I knew it! Damn. I've been reading the lovely Herbwife's ideas and tips—she makes it sound so easy.)


  1. Oh goodness! I could never give up buying condiments. You remember Mom and Dad's fridge. completely full of mustards and jams and pickles and sauces. But one thing I do do (besides, of course, jams) is I make all my own salad dressing. I was tired of being disappointed in vinaigrettes, so I just have given up on them entirely and make my own. It's the easiest thing. I shall have to post a set of recipes one of these days.

  2. Ah yes, Mags, but when you make your own, they're so much better! As you know from jam. By the way, your blood orange marmalade sounds divine. (Anything with anise...) This summer I'm moving on to pickles. My mum makes the most incredible, garlicky, Jewish-y, old-fashioned brine cucumber pickles. Better than chocolate cake.

  3. I made mayonaise once a few years ago, using the More-With-Less Cookbook recipe. I'll have to try it again since you make it look so easy!

  4. It IS easy, but I hear that successful mayonnaise depends on the weather.....Who knew?

  5. This is so inspiring, Mary! After reading and writing and researching about the environment, it is awesome to see that people are actually DOING something about it!

  6. i wash my hair with apple cider vinegar, water, and tea tree oil and i don't wash it often! haha! i have dreads though. your mayo sounds great. going to try it.

  7. I made my own ranch dressing today - very easy and very delicious. 1 cup mayo, 1/2 cup sour cream, 1/2 tsp. parsley, 1/2 tsp. dill, 1/4 tsp. garlic powder, 1/4 tsp. onion powder, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper. And I put it in a glass jar. Mmmmm.

  8. hi there! thanks so much for your comment over on my blog and thanks a HUGE LOT for this recipe... homemade mayo had never occured to me, but how easy! how long does it keep, would you say?

  9. Hi Mary Frances...We've kept it for a month (in the fridge, of course!) but I don't know if that's really gross and shocking? Certainly fresher is always better! Let's say 2 or 3 weeks to be safe.